Ashcroft "Calms the Far Right"; Bush Hit From the Left by CBS, NBC & CNN Reporters; 13th Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting
1) CBS and ABC Friday night
highlighted vitriolic liberal opposition to Bush's pick of John
Ashcroft for Attorney General while not running any soundbites in his
favor. NBC's Brian Williams declared that he "calms the far right
politically." Dan Rather asserted Ashcroft is "known for his
tough anti-abortion stand" while Christie Todd Whitman
"supports abortion rights."
2) Network reporters hit
Bush from the left in his press conference. CBS's John Roberts asked
about his "willingness to break with... conservatives";
NBC's David Gregory wanted to know if he'd "consider a
moratorium on the federal death penalty"; and CNN's Major Garrett
pointed out how "some...thought there was some racial motivation
behind" Ashcroft's opposition to a judge.
3) The 18 winning quotes in
the MRC's "The Best Notable Quotables of 2000: The Thirteenth
Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Learn who won the
"Quote of the Year."
>>> CyberAlert Countdown Calendar to the 1,000th edition.
Today's is the 995th numbered issue, so 5 more to go. <<<
and ABC pounced Friday night on George W. Bush's pick of Senator John
Ashcroft as his Attorney General, immediately highlighting liberal
opposition while not running any soundbites in his favor as both raised
his fight against the nomination to the federal bench of a black Missouri
Supreme Court justice. CBS adopted liberal terminology as Dan Rather told
viewers Ashcroft is "known for his tough anti-abortion stand"
while New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman, Bush's choice to head
the EPA, "supports abortion rights."
Ashcroft "calms the far right
politically," declared NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams. I
haven't had an opportunity to check definitively, but I'm fairly
certain no one with NBC News ever said that any Clinton cabinet pick in
1992 "calms the far left politically."
In alphabetical order, here's how the three
broadcast networks on Friday night, December 22, handled Bush's first
nomination of a conservative for his cabinet:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Peter Jennings
opened the show by stressing liberal opposition:
"George W. Bush
has chosen the person he wants to be Attorney General. He is the 58-year
old soon to be former Senator John Ashcroft of Missouri. Senator Ashcroft
lost his bid for re-election this year. The Senator is a former law
professor and former Attorney General of Missouri and Governor -- from the
conservative wing of the Republican Party. And some of the positions
he's taken as a politician have galvanized liberal opposition to his
Reporter Mike von Fremd called Ashcroft the
"most controversial nominee so far" since he will upset
Democrats. After a soundbite of Bush praising Ashcroft, von Fremd picked
very selectively from his voting record: "The American Conservative
Union gives him a top approval rating. He has voted against some tobacco
regulations, against expanding hate crimes legislation and against
allowing abortions in military hospitals. A record that troubles most
Democratic constituencies." Without a syllable from anyone favorable,
von Fremd ran back-to-back negative blasts:
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights: "For a President-elect who's
committed to united the country not dividing it, this nomination is one of
the most divisive he could have chosen."
Legal Director, NARAL: "We're tremendously concerned that this is a
harbinger of things to come."
Von Fremd then
painted in racial terms an event which earned Ashcroft the wrath of
liberals: "Mr. Ashcroft has also angered civil rights groups for
blocking the nomination of Missouri Supreme Court judge Ronnie White to
the federal bench. Judge White was the first black member of Missouri's
Supreme Court. Ashcroft said the judge was soft on criminals."
Following a clip of Bush saying he's confident
Ashcroft believes in civil rights and a soundbite from Ashcroft himself
promising to enforce the laws with integrity, von Fremd concluded:
"Now this is
the first nomination to have been even mildly controversial. But it does
go a long way to satisfy the conservative wing of Mr. Bush's party. And
Peter he'll need them when he begins to govern."
Indeed, since he certainly won't have the media.
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather began: "Good
evening. Anti-abortion groups and the self-described Religious Right could
not be happier with President-elect George Bush's nominee for U.S.
Attorney General. Bush today named John Ashcroft, a just-defeated
Republican Senator from Missouri known for his tough anti-abortion stand.
Planned Parenthood immediately urged Congress not to confirm him. Bush
also named New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, who supports abortion
rights, for a post with no role in abortion policy. She was picked to head
the Environmental Protection Agency."
John Roberts dubbed Ashcroft the "most
controversial" Bush pick so far as he pointed out how Ashcroft was
"the only politician in modern times defeated by a dead man."
Roberts stressed: "Ashcroft is a darling of the Republican right, but
his strong stance against abortion and his leading role in killing the
appointment of Missouri judge Ronnie White to the federal bench, prompted
a sharp rebuke today from liberal activist groups."
Ralph Neas, PAW:
"John Ashcroft's nomination is an insult to every American who is
committed to equality of opportunity for all Americans. This is an
astonishingly bad nomination."
Roberts noted that Democratic Senator Leahy promised
not to hold up Ashcroft's nomination but warned that serious questions
will be posed to him. Roberts moved on to Whitman and he matched
Rather's biased abortion labeling: "The choice of Ashcroft gives
Bush a bit of breathing space to go after some moderates. Today he named
New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman to head the Environmental
Protection Agency. At odds with conservatives over her support for
abortion rights, Whitman was seen as too controversial for other cabinet
positions that would write social policy."
-- NBC Nightly News. Fill-in anchor Brian Williams
led the broadcast by emphasizing Ashcroft's appeal to the "far
right" of the GOP: "America's second ever Bush administration
is taking shape tonight with the naming of a GOP veteran to a crucial
position. If confirmed, conservative Missouri Republican Senator John
Ashcroft will be this nation's next Attorney General. With this move Mr.
Bush rewards a defeated U.S. Senator, calms the far right politically and
makes a decidedly law and order statement."
Reporter David Gregory actually never raised the
White case as he observed his appeal to conservatives: "While
conservative sources say he is not Bush's first choice, and could face a
difficult confirmation battle, this Missouri Republican will go a long way
to appease the President-elect's conservative political base."
Gregory also touched on "abortion rights
supporter" Whitman: "Even as a small crowd gathers to protest
Bush's environmental record as Governor, the President-elect names a
moderate Republican, New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman, to head
the Environmental Protection Agency, a position Bush announces will carry
cabinet rank in his administration. By naming Whitman, an abortion rights
supporter, Bush appears determined to strike an ideological balance."
Next, Pete Williams profiled Ashcroft. Williams
began: "Today's nomination brings the Bush team its first
experienced baritone, member of the Singing Senators quartet. And its
first bedrock conservative..."
questions from the network big boys, three questions from the left. George
W. Bush held a mini press conference Friday morning after he announced
John Ashcroft as his choice for Attorney General. Reporters for CBS, NBC
and CNN, but not ABC, posed questions and all three came from the left.
CBS's John Roberts pressed Bush about his
"willingness to break with the Republican leadership and
conservatives in your party"; NBC's David Gregory wanted to know if
he'd "consider a moratorium on the federal death penalty"; and
CNN's Major Garrett raised Ashcroft's opposition to the nomination of
Ronnie White and relayed the liberal spin: "Some criticized that and
thought there was some racial motivation behind that."
-- CBS News reporter John Roberts: "You made it
a centerpiece of your campaign to reform and upgrade the military, yet it
would appear that in an otherwise painless transition you're still
having some problems finding a Secretary of Defense. I'm wondering, sir,
what can you tell us about the problems that you're experiencing, what
of Senator Coats who is said to be a frontrunner among congressional
Republicans, and what do your deliberations say about your willingness to
break with the Republican leadership and conservatives in your
-- NBC News reporter David Gregory: "The
Clinton administration has questioned the fairness of the federal death
penalty. Will you consider a moratorium on the federal death penalty and
Senator Ashcroft, as incoming Attorney General, is that something you
think should be done?"
-- CNN reporter Major Garrett: "In the civil
rights community Senator Ashcroft is well known for blocking the elevation
to the federal bench of Ronnie White, a Supreme Court justice in Missouri.
Some criticized that and thought there was some racial motivation behind
that. I'd like you to address that controversy sir and also tell us what
the civil rights division of the Department of Justice will do under his
leadership different from what Bill Lan Lee has done, who's very much
criticized by Republicans in the Senate, including Mr. Ashcroft."
winning quotes in the MRC's "The Best Notable Quotables of 2000:
The Thirteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." The
annual end of the year special 8-page edition of NQ is based upon the
votes of 46 judges -- radio talk show hosts, columnists, editorial
writers, magazine editors and media observers -- who evaluated and ranked
quotes in 18 award categories.
To view all the winning quotes as well as the two or
three top runners-up and, thanks to Webmaster Andy Szul, RealPlayer video
clips for two dozen of the quotes from TV shows, go to: http://archive.mrc.org/bestofnq2000.html
To see the 8-page issue typeset as snail mail
subscribers saw the newsletter, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version. Go
Below are the winning quotes followed by the list of
the judges who selected first, second and third place choices in all 18
categories. Point totals are in brackets after each quote. First place
picks were assigned three points, second place choices were given two
points and third place selections were allocated one point. The MRC
elections officer, Kristina Sewell, totaled them up and the numbers
withstood a recount and a hand count. Here are the results, starting with
the "Quote of the Year" which earned just one more point than
the first runnner-up in the category:
Quote of the Year
"Yup, I gotta confess, that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal
in Miami pointing an automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering
him in the name of the U.S. government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed
my heart. They should put that picture up in every visa line in every U.S.
consulate around the world, with a caption that reads: 'America is a
country where the rule of law rules. This picture illustrates what happens
to those who defy the rule of law and how far our government and people
will go to preserve it. Come all ye who
-- Thomas Friedman, former New York Times reporter and occasional PBS
Washington Week in Review panelist, April 25 New York Times column.
Aiding & Abetting in an Election Theft Award
"Here we will have possibly a bunch of tax dodgers deciding the
-- Time's Margaret Carlson on Florida absentee ballots from military
personnel, on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, November 8. Florida does not
have an income tax. (Carlson later apologized) [64 points]
Kiss Me, Too, Al Award (for Gore Gushing)
"At the same time, he will have to find a way to disassociate
himself from the President's extremely low personal approval ratings. It
shouldn't be that difficult. Al Gore has been perhaps the most active
Vice President in American history, and there's not a hint of scandal
associated with Gore's personal behavior. So much for logic."
-- ABC Nightline host Ted Koppel previewing Al
Gore's convention address, August 14.
Kosher Kiss-Up Award (for Lauding Lieberman)
"Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore officially introduced
his history-making running mate today, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
History-making because Lieberman is of Jewish heritage and faith. The two
started running right away. In their first joint appearance they gave a
preview of the Gore-Lieberman fight-back, come-back strategy. Their
message: They represent the future, not the past, and they are the ticket
of high moral standards most in tune with real mainstream America."
-- Dan Rather introducing the
Gore-Lieberman ticket, August 8 CBS Evening
News. [62 points]
I Am Woman Award (for Hillary Rodham Worshiping)
"I'm endlessly fascinated by her....She's so smart. Virtually
every time I've seen her perform, she has knocked my socks off."
-- CBS News reporter Lesley Stahl on Hillary Clinton, as quoted by Gail
Shister in the December 8, 1999 Philadelphia Inquirer. [91 points]
Carve Clinton into Mount Rushmore Award
"You're going to miss that guy. Don't tell me you're not
gonna miss that guy. This is a master. He may be a rogue, but he is an
artful and pleasant rogue and done a hell of a job as President. I'm
gonna miss the guy...He should've been the vice presidential
-- Geraldo Rivera after humming the theme from Rocky over footage of
Clinton's pre-speech hallway walk at the Democratic convention, August
21 Rivera Live on CNBC. [81 points]
Media Hero Award
"However formal the father-son relationship, it was strong enough
that Al [Gore] went off to war for him. When most kids wouldn't come to
the dinner table wearing a clean T-shirt, Al signed up for Vietnam to
diminish the impact of his father's opposition to the war in his
unsuccessful fight to keep his Senate seat in 1970. Gore, to preserve his
father's career, did what few sons of privilege had to do....As
psychiatrists and Shakespeare would have it, a son comes into his own when
he surpasses his father. By that measure, Gore is fully grown. Unlike the
breezy George W. Bush, who was on a career respirator much of his adult
life, Gore has worked up a sweat getting to where he is."
-- Time columnist Margaret Carlson, February 28. [60 points]
The Real Reagan Legacy Award
Co-host Bryant Gumbel: "Well, later on this morning we're going
to be talking on this President's Day about this presidential survey.
Who would you think finished first?...Of all the Presidents when they did
first to worst. Oh c'mon, you would know."
Clayson: "Ronald Reagan."
Gumbel, dropping his pen: "First?!?!"
Clayson: "Who was it?"
Gumbel: "No! Reagan wasn't even in the top ten. Abraham Lincoln.
Maybe you've heard of him."
-- Exchange on CBS's The Early Show about C-SPAN poll of historians
which ranked Reagan 11th, February 21. [95 points]
Flirting with Disaster Award (for Proximity to Conservatives)
"The platform is, again, very strongly pro-life and rejects
abortion rights, and the platform specifically comes out against gay
unions, and against legal protections based on sexual preferences. So is
this really an open, compassionate, tolerant party?"
-- Charles Gibson to Lynne Cheney, August 2 Good Morning America. [54
The Galloping Ghost of Gingrich Award (for Chiding Cheney)
"And when you talk about votes like that, that he made while in
Congress, anti-affirmative action, anti-abortion, anti-gun control,
anti-equal rights, how does George Bush portray him as a compassionate
-- Today co-host Matt Lauer to Tim Russert, July 26. [41 points]
W is for Woeful Award (for Bashing Bush)
"He went along with having an openly gay Congressman address the convention last night, yet Bush opposes hate
crimes legislation, gay marriage and gay adoption. He is the candidate who
talks of making health insurance available to all who want it, but has
fought to limit federal insurance for children. Bush is the candidate who
has proposed a huge tax cut as a way to help the working class. But more
than sixty percent of the relief would go to the richest ten percent of
Americans. And while he speaks of the need to protect the environment,
Bush supports mostly voluntary efforts to do it."
-- ABC's Dean Reynolds, Aug. 2 World News Tonight. [44 points]
If He Didn't Sink, Send Him Back to the Clink Award (for
Portraying a Cuban Paradise Awaiting Elian)
"While Fidel Castro, and certainly justified on his record, is
widely criticized for a lot of things, there is no question that Castro
feels a very deep and abiding connection to those Cubans who are still in
Cuba. And, I recognize this might be controversial, but there's little
doubt in my mind that Fidel Castro was sincere when he said, 'listen, we
really want this child back here.'"
-- Dan Rather, live on CBS the morning of the Elian raid, April 22. [65
Little Havana Banana Republic Award
"Some suggested over the weekend that it's wrong to expect Elian
Gonzalez to live in a place that tolerates no dissent or freedom of
political expression. They were talking about Miami. All eyes on south
Florida and its image this morning. Another writer this weekend called it
'an out of control banana republic within America.' What effect is the
Elian Gonzalez story having on perception
of Miami? We will talk with a well-known columnist for the Miami Herald
-- NBC's Katie Couric opening the April 3 Today. [60 points]
Semper Fidel Award (for Jim Avila's Admiration of Fidel Castro)
"What is deprogramming? What is reeducation? The young man [Elian]
will go back into the, into the school system in Cuba. The school system
in Cuba teaches that communism is the way to succeed in life and it is the
best system. Is that deprogramming or is that national heritage? That's
certainly what he'll be learning. He'll also be living in a different
kind of society, a society that many people here in Cuba like. The CIA, in
fact, says that if the borders were
open that most, 90 percent of the population here in Cuba would stay in
Cuba because they like it."
-- NBC News reporter Jim Avila from Cuba on CNBC's Upfront Tonight, June
27. [66 points]
Bring Back the Iron Curtain Award (for Admiring Communism)
"To be a poor child in Cuba may in many instances be better than
being a poor child in Miami and I'm not going to condemn their lifestyle
-- Newsweek's Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group, April 8. [62 points]
Damn Those Conservatives Award
"What a f--king idiot."
-- Bryant Gumbel caught on camera after he threw the show to a weather
segment seconds after wrapping up a hostile interview with Robert
Knight of the Family Research Council, June 29 The Early Show.
Good Morning Morons Award
"In a macro-political sense, do you think the Gore preoccupation
with morality is a frightening turn for the party?"
-- Bryant Gumbel to Hugh Hefner, host of a fundraiser moved to another
location, August 15 The Early Show during the Democratic convention.
Politics of Meaninglessness Award (for the Silliest Analysis)
"I had my opinions surgically removed when I became a network correspondent."
-- CBS 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl denying liberal bias, Fox
News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, January 25. [53 points]
END Reprint of winning quotes in the MRC's awards
for the year's worst reporting.
Now, the list of the judges who gave generously of
their time to complete our extensive ballot and return it to us in under
-- Chuck Asay, editorial cartoonist, The Gazette in Colorado Springs
-- Brent Baker, Editor of MRC's CyberAlerts and Notable Quotables
-- Mark Belling, talk show host, WISN in Milwaukee
-- Neal Boortz, nationally syndicated radio talk show host
-- L. Brent Bozell III, Chairman of the Media Research Center
-- David Brudnoy, talk show host, WBZ in Boston; adjunct professor at
-- Priscilla Buckley, Contributing Editor of National Review
-- Tucker Carlson, Weekly Standard writer; co-host, CNN's Spin Room
-- Bernadette Malone Connolly, editorial page editor, Manchester (N.H.)
-- Mark Davis, talk show host, ABC Radio and WBAP in Dallas-Ft. Worth;
columnist, Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
-- Midge Decter, writer and critic, New York City
-- Jim Eason, KSFO in San Francisco talk show host, emeritus
-- Don Feder, syndicated columnist and Boston Herald writer
-- Eric Fettmann, columnist and editorial board member, New York Post
-- Tim Graham, Director of Media Analysis, Media Research Center
-- Kirk Healy, Executive Producer, Cox Radio, Orlando
-- Quin Hillyer, editorial writer, Mobile Register
-- Marie Kaigler, radio talk show host, Detroit
-- Cliff Kincaid, President, America's Survival
-- Mark Larson, talk show host and general manager at KCBQ/KPRZ in San
-- Jason Lewis, talk show host, KSTP in Minneapolis/St. Paul
-- Tony Macrini, talk show host, WNIS in Norfolk, Virginia
-- Don Markwell, talk show host, WACV in Montgomery, Alabama
-- Patrick McGuigan, Editor, editorial page, The Oklahoman
-- Jan Mickelson, talk show host, WHO in Des Moines
-- Gary Nolan, national radio talk show host, Radio America
-- Jane Norris, talk show host, WHAS Louisville & WLAP Lexington
-- Robert Novak, syndicated columnist and CNN commentator
-- Rich Noyes, Director of the MRC's Free
-- Kate O'Beirne, Washington Editor of National Review
-- Marvin Olasky, Senior Fellow, Acton Institute for the Study of Religion
and Liberty; Editor of World magazine
-- Janet Parshall, nationally syndicated radio talk show host
-- Henry Payne, editorial cartoonist, The Detroit News
-- Wladyslaw Pleszczynski, Executive Editor, The American Spectator
-- Michael Reagan, nationally syndicated radio talk show host
-- Mike Rosen, talk show host, KOA in Denver; columnist, Denver Rocky
-- William Rusher, Distinguished Fellow, Claremont Institute
-- Ron Smith, talk show host, WBAL in Baltimore
-- Ted J. Smith III, Professor of journalism, Virginia Commonwealth U.
-- Philip Terzian, nationally syndicated columnist
-- Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist; panelist on FNC's Fox Newswatch
-- R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., Editor-in-Chief of The American Spectator
-- Armstrong Williams, nationally syndicated columnist
-- Dick Williams, columnist; host of Atlanta's Georgia Gang
-- Walter Williams, Professor of economics, George Mason University
-- Thomas Winter, Editor-in-Chief of Human Events
END list of judges.
On Wednesday, the first runners-up. --
Brent Baker, hiding out in
state where the President-elect captured a whopping 32 percent.
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